A Chinese farmer has come under fire for keeping his 100-year-old mother in a pigsty, sparking a debate over how China cares for its elderly. Chen Shoutian, from Guanyun county in Jiangsu province, has faced a barrage of criticism since a local television station aired a report claiming his elderly mother had spent two years sharing a cramped, cinderblock shack with a voluptuous, 200kg sow.
Mr Chen told the local Jiangsu Television station that the mother of eight, who was born in the dying days of the Qing Dynasty, had been happy to share her bedroom with the animal.
"She wants to stay here because she feels it is convenient," he said.
But in an interview with local television, a visibly upset Mr Chen defended himself, claiming there had been no room for his mother in his 6-room house. "I definitely [would] have no problem living here," he said.
Other relatives were less impressed by the elderly woman's abode.
'[It's] too smelly, so smelly that it is impossible to even come inside," said Liu Zhanbing, her grandson. "I couldn't live with that." Gu Yuqing, the daughter, said she had tried to rescue her mother from the pigsty but had been unable to convince her to leave.
"There were countless flies and mosquitoes in the summer and my mother was living right here. It broke my heart," she complained.
"She's so old - and to live with pigs! How can we not feel sad?" China currently has around 185 million citizens over the age of 60 but that number is expected to shoot up to nearly 490 million by 2053, a recent study found. The country's one-child policy and measly pension system has put increasing pressure on only children to take care of their parents.